|Pollinating wheat in the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center greenhouse. You can see construction on the west side of the K-State football stadium from the windows of the greenhouse.
I understand bread knives. I don't understand doubled haploids. And that's OK. That's why we Kansas wheat farmers have people working at KWIC who do understand complicated "stuff" like doubled haploids.
Wheat has been a basis of the human diet for thousands of years. Bread in one form or another is a basic food source all over the world. It seems simple - flour, water, yeast and a few assorted other ingredients.
But wheat is actually a very complex plant. A typical wheat variety is hexaploid: It has six copies of each gene, where most living things have two. Its 21 chromosomes contain a massive 16 billion base pairs of DNA, 40 times as much as rice, six times as much as maize and five times as much as people.
Mapping the wheat genome is complicated business because wheat is a complicated plant. It's one reason that work in wheat genetics has lagged behind other cereal grains. But KWIC will offer opportunities for researchers to learn more and put that knowledge to use.
|Different stages of growth in grow rooms at KWIC
|Wheat plants are in the foreground, with corn plants at different stages of maturity growing in the background of the same greenhouse.
|Randy looks into a growth chamber which was sponsored by KFRM 550 AM radio. KFRM is the station for whom I do freelance reporting, giving a Central Kansas report Monday through Friday.
While I don't understand doubled haploids, I do understand feeding hungry people. The KWIC also has a test kitchen, where Kansas Wheat and friends just finished testing recipes and selecting finalists for the National Festival of Breads, coming to Manhattan, June 20-22. You can come to Manhattan and watch them bake on June 22. Check out this recipe from the 2011 winner. The NFOB website has recipes from other winners and finalists.
|The flour sponsor for the National Festival of Breads is King Arthur. But I had to take a photo of the "hometown" Hudson Cream Flour in the KWIC test kitchen, made by our Stafford County neighbors in Hudson.